Category Archives: Teaching Genealogy

Suggested Reading


Back in my university days at University of British Columbia and Brigham Young University Hawaii, professors would often hand out lists of books under the title of Suggested Reading. The lists would include chapters in scholarly articles, chapters in books, whole books and theses and dissertations. Most of us recycled the papers by doodling on the back and front during the lecture. But the smart ones actually went to the library to read the books and articles! Sometimes I include a list of suggested readings at the end of a handout under the title of suggested readings. I am sure they are never consulted.

Are genealogists like those university students? Continue reading


Why Pre-Register for Free Events?

Ken looks right.jpg

Should program planners have a pre-registration for free genealogy events?

Its a good question that deserves some thought. Personally it is my experience as a genealogy librarian and program planner that even in situations where genealogy programs are offered free to the public, that having participants sign up for the event in advance is a real advantage. Here’s why:

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Teaching Standards for Instructors

ken_threequarter_sm.jpg One of my favorite genealogy instructors was Dr. Thomas Warren who taught an extra-sessional course at the University of British Columbia called “Library Research for Genealogists and Family Historians” or something like that. Tom was a great teacher. Here’s why: Continue reading

Teaching Genealogy in Bed

  picture-009.jpg  As many of you know, my health keeps me anchored to a hospital bed. About 7:45 this morning, after the vampire has left with my blood samples, a pleasant lady shows up and introduces herself as the Director of Nursing.  She checks my ID bracelet and says, “Mr. Aitken, I understand you are well-known genealogist.  I have just started this fall in doing genealogy…”

So begins a new teaching adventure with people and places that can help me and I wonder if I can replace my ugly male nurses with more of my beautiful female nurses.

We discuss her present software needs and how to use 3 new websites.  Next time we’ll talk about online genealogy instruction.

So this continues….

Post Script to Transcription

Saw this reference the other day. you might want to check it out:

Michael E. Stevens and Steven B. Burg, Editing Historical Documents: A Handbook of Practice (Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press, 1997)

Alternate Teaching Models: Behavioral Models

picture-009.jpgBased on the work of Skinner, a large number of approaches to learning have been developed, each taking advantage of the learner’s ability to modify behavior in response to tasks and feedback. Essentially, stimulus and response. These models are used in a wide variety of applications, from teaching information to changing habits, decreasing phobias, and learning to control one’s own behavior. Continue reading

Models for Building Web-based Instruction


While researching “learning dyads” I found this interesting paper on approaches to on-line course design. Click here if you are curious enough to read an academic paper. What do you think?

Apprentice Adventures #8


This week we are looking at another article. My apprentice has been reading and re-reading Kay Germain Ingalls great article, “Cherchez la femme! Looking for Female Ancestors” in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly Vol.88, No. 3 (Sept 2000) pp. 165-176. Her assignment was to create questions to be used either in a discussion group, or in multiple choice form for use in a test, or on-line course situation. The task of creating questions causes the reader to read a little closer. Continue reading

Apprentice Adventures #7


My apprentice was over on Thursday and we discussed her assignments. First we discussed her reading of Christine Rose’s book, Genealogical Proof Standard, Building a Solid Case (CR Publications, 2005).

This was excellant preparation for the other reading, Connie Lenzen’s article, “Heritage Books and Family Lore: A Jackson Test in Missouri and Idaho.”National Genealogical Society Quarterly Vol. 86, No. 1 (March 1998) pp.19-36. My instructions were to read the article four times very carefully. The day before our meeting she emailed, “Now I know why you said read it over 4 times! In the past, when I got to stuff like this I just put down conflicting information and bypassed it. Now I now what to do” Continue reading

Workbooks: Another Look at a Useful Tool


A good workbook can reinforce or expand on your lessons, workshops or lectures by reviewing and expanding on concepts you introduce in your aural presentation. It does this by asking each learner personally to respond to your questions. Lets explore this a bit. Continue reading